Electric bike: Attention! Amazon sells illegal kits in France

News hardware Electric bike: Attention! Amazon sells illegal kits in France

There are more and more conversion kits to go from a classic bike to an electric bike. Only that the reality is that some kits are illegal and do not comply with French law. Be careful not to be fooled, it can be expensive

DIY electric bikes, difficult to control

French legislation is very clear on the obligations and limits of pedal assisted bicycles. The first is in the name “assistance”. That is to say that beyond 6 km/h it is mandatory to pedal. So any kit that provides a throttle that doesn’t stop at 6km/h is illegal.

In addition to acceleration, it is also the maximum speed provided by the electric motor that must be limited. The kit cannot exceed 250 Watts of power and go over 25 km/h. As you pedal, you are free to go faster, but the motor shouldn’t be doing all the work beyond this speed. Failure to respect these two rules cannot be considered an electric bike. However, there is another category.

Make an illegal electric bike kit legal

We are more in the “assistance” category when we go over 25 km/h and have the accelerator above 6 km/h. It is therefore necessary to transform his bicycle into a moped. This implies new, much more restrictive regulations. You need a license plate, homologation, insurance and a compulsory helmet.

With an electric bike of this category, you must also have an A, B or AM driving license (formerly BSR). This allows you to drive, as long as you are limited to 45km/h. You no longer have the right to use cycle paths and you must respect the highway code for motorcycles and scooters. No more steps with M12 priority panels.

Of course, when a seller makes you buy such a kit, he won’t check if you comply with all the steps to legalize it. When purchasing a scooter, motorbike or any other motorized vehicle, you must be in possession of the vehicle registration document, therefore a valid adapted driving licence. The seller cannot sell it to anyone. For the conversion kit, this is a real gray area.

Truly illegal unregulated electric bike kits

There is still one category above: motorcycles that exceed 45 km/h. In this case it falls within the scope of the A1 motorcycle licence. Control powers from 0.1 to 11kW. So an electric conversion motor on Amazon with 1000 Watt and a maximum speed of 60 km/h falls into this category. As for the AM category, it will be necessary to respect the regulation. But in reality, people either don’t know it or they just don’t know it.

It is therefore easy to find yourself with electric bicycles circulating illegally. Especially since the sellers on Amazon absolutely do not specify that customers cannot simply put their kit on the bike.

This is the hit of the legal ads, and Amazon clears itself of all wrongdoing, shifting the blame back to the retailers. In a statement to The Times, the e-commerce giant explains: “Third-party sellers are independent businesses and are required to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, as well as Amazon’s policies when listing items for sale on our website”.

The regulations have just been revised in 2022, but there are still areas of uncertainty. In particular, one may wonder why an electric scooter (EPDM category) can go up to 25 km/h with the accelerator, but the bike is limited to 6 km/h? Does having pedals and a saddle make riding dangerous? The law is therefore still vague on some topics. What is clear, however, is that failure to comply with the categories of your bicycle falls under the scope of “unlocking” and incurs a maximum penalty of 1 year’s imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros. Something to think about before buying one of these kits which can end up being very expensive.

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